Graeme Base’s illustrations are iconic. The animals he creates are so lifelike that you could easily mistake his pictures for photos. I had expected to take a look at his beautiful illustrations and move on. But The Last King of Angkor Wat wouldn’t let me go.
This deceptively simple tale takes us on two journeys of discovery. Not only do we wander the jungle and twisted wilderness that surrounds the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, but we also ponder how personalities and their actions impact our world.
As four jungle inhabitants – a tiger, a gibbon, a water buffalo and a gecko – vie to prove that they have the qualities needed to be great rulers, we see strengths and weaknesses of character in their actions and how these actions can affect the present and future.
The idea of how different personality types can change our world is made accessible to very young children in this book. Philosophical discussions about actions and their consequences will flow from the story and the stunning illustrations. This book is genius.
Reviewed by Jo Burnell
Age guide 3+